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Business

Kingston’s Candy Company Finds Sweet Spot in Santa Barbara

Owner Sarah Jaimes says her State Street shop has been on a roll since opening late last year

Sarah Jaimes, born and raised in Santa Barbara and now the owner of Kingston’s Candy Company at 3415 State St., has received what she calls “a ton of free press.”

Among the attention was a live interview with Marcia Reed, vice president of the Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce on a local radio station.

“I think when people realize it’s a local person, people kind of embrace that and rally around that,” Jaimes said. “I’ve had a lot of customers come in and say they want to give to local businesses. It’s really sad to see local businesses go out.”

Kingston’s Candy Company held a large grand opening during Halloween weekend, and the store has been doing well since its opening about 14 weeks ago. During the holiday season, the company sold more than 500 high-priced candy buckets.

“The inertia has continued since then,” Jaimes said. “I think people are really enjoying the fact that they can have personal contact with the owner. I have a staff of two amazing girls who know the community well. Every day, at least half of my customers are new.”

Jaimes’ sister, Holly Thrasher, opened the original Kingston’s Candy Company in Ojai in March 2010. The store’s name comes from the birthplace of Jaimes’ grandfather, Hayland Levy, who was born in Kingston, New Zealand. Thrasher wrote a business plan with the help of the Santa Barbara Chapter of SCORE.

“Being born and raised here, I felt like Santa Barbara lacks original stores to buy unique gifts,” Jaimes said. “I never had a doubt it would be a success.”

Jaimes was employed in retail for many years, and had worked in the mortgage industry before opening Kingston’s Candy Company.

“I was working really hard and just not feeling fulfilled,” she said. “My sister came up with the business concept a year and a half ago. I wanted to find a spot in Santa Barbara (for the store) that hadn’t changed much and is locally oriented.”

Kingston’s Candy Company offers about 1,000 items, including nostalgic favorites such as Necco wafers and Sugar Daddys in what Jaimes calls the “trip down memory lane section.” Her store also carries original goodies, such as a new collection of s’mores kits that include campfire songs, along with the graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate ingredients.

“I seek out high-quality and unique items to carry in the store,” Jaimes said. “What we’re lacking in Santa Barbara, and even all across the country, are all those individual mom-and-pop shops. Everywhere you go it’s the same corporate stores.”

Kingston’s Sweet Treat Hunt is a popular children’s birthday event that occurs in the private party room of the store. A child can invite up to 12 friends to partake in a candy treasure hunt, and after the game ends, the kids get to choose an old-fashioned soda or ice cream to enjoy.

“I’m a little overwhelmed with paperwork,” Jaimes said with a laugh, “but I love working with the community and developing relationships.”

On Monday, Feb. 7, 20 percent of purchases at Kingston’s Candy Company will benefit Washington School, 290 Lighthouse Road. Click here for more information about the store. Click here to become a fan of Kingston’s Candy Company on Facebook.

Noozhawk business writer Taylor Orr can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @NoozhawkBiz, @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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